I had a Lionel RW transformer that I bought nearly 10 years ago, at one of my first estate sales. I’m sure I remember using it after I bought it, but it was far from in working order when I found it this time. The accessory posts all showed voltage, but the critical A and B posts showed zero volts when connected to the U post, no matter how I turned up the handle. So while the transformer could power accessories, I couldn’t run a train off it using the variable output.
And I was uncomfortable using it without knowing exactly why part of it wasn’t working.
I’ve covered phasing transformers before, which allows you to use more than one transformer on a layout. But I read something today that reminded me of an old question: Can you safely use a modern Lionel transformer, such as a CW-80 or new ZW, with postwar transformers?
AC adapters inevitably break or get lost. That means you have to replace them to get your devices working again. But a lot of people don’t know how to do that safely. Here’s what you need to know when you need to substitute AC adapters.
This is important. Getting it wrong can damage your equipment, the adapter, or both. The damage can be immediate, or it can appear over time.
The specifications for your AC adapter (also not affectionately known as wall warts or power bricks) should be printed on the old one, and hopefully on the device too. If you lost the adapter and the specs aren’t on the device, try a web search on “ac adapter specifications” and the name of the product.
It used to be you could take the device to Radio Shack, and $25 and five minutes later you had a good replacement. Today you might try Batteries Plus for a similar experience. But if you’re willing to do the legwork yourself, often you can find a close-enough match for closer to $10.
So, with all that said, here are the handful of things you need to know when you’re shopping for an AC adapter. The specifications don’t have to match exactly, but you have to know when you can cheat and when you can’t. Read more